Here’s what you can give your spouse:
Avoid Taxes. To ensure that no estate tax will be due upon the death of the first spouse, you and your spouse’s estate legal documents must be set up correctly. While the estate tax exemption is presently $5 million, most taxpayers feel this amount will be reduced to enable the government to collect more revenue from estates. Few married couples realize that having the right legal documents in place eliminates tax at the first death regardless of the estate’s value.
Eliminate Probate. Titles to real estate, investment accounts, and other assets in your name are frozen when you die. Access by your spouse to these assets is DENIED. Your spouse will have to go through the often painstaking process of hiring an attorney (hopefully my colleagues don’t push your family around), to hold their hand while they go through a snail-paced court-supervised probate process of transferring your assets to your heirs.
Avoid Descendant and In-Law Problems. If and your spouse establish your estate plan correctly, then when one spouse dies, the surviving spouse does not need to get any of the children (or their spouses) involved in the transition of assets from the married couple to the surviving spouse. Surviving spouses often get frustrated when they learn that they can’t take certain action (sell their home, for example) without getting the signed, written, notarized, permission of others.
Organization and Pre-Arranged. There’s much to be said for leaving things financial, legal, and tax matters organized and well-documented for your loved ones. The difference between settling the affairs of one who left things disorganized versus one who left things “deliberately the right way” can be the difference between “years of chaos” and “days of simplicity.”
IMPORTANT VALENTINE’S DAY P.S. It is common to see people perform “acts of appreciation” for their friends on this special day. On February 14, 2014, our office (215 S. Washington St., Suite 108, Shelby, NC) will be collecting items much-needed by the Cleveland County Rescue Mission. Between 10:00am and 2:30pm on Friday, February 14, drop off the following items at our office: blankets, sleeping bags, roll-up yoga mats (to sleep on), toiletries (toothbrushes, toothpaste, combs, shaving razors, soap, shampoo, deodorant, nail clippers, etc.), back packs (to carry their belongings), used clothes in good condition, unused socks and undergarments, and canned goods/non-perishable food items. Financial donations may also be payable directly to the shelter and dropped off at our office.